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Failure of Backup Power Claims Registers

By Michael E. Rolish

A server outage prevented several on-campus dining locations from accepting the MIT Card over the weekend.

John M. McDonald, the assistant director of enterprise services, said that backup power failures brought down two servers in the MIT Card Office. They were not restored until Monday morning.

Among the affected locations were Alpine Bagel Cafe/ Cambridge Grill, Arrow St. CrÊpes, and Simmons Dining.

“We’re sorry about the inconvenience to our customers,” said a manager at Arrow St CrÊpes. “It was completely out of our control.”

Locations that use the old registers, including LaVerde’s Market and several dormitory dining facilities, did not lose card service.

New registers need connection

Usage of the MIT Card is currently handled by two systems. The older one uses servers and registers purchased from Diebold Inc., and registers under this system can continue to function while offline, saving up transactions until they are reconnected.

In January, offline cash registers at the Lobdell Food Court and Walker Memorial were reconnected and posted delayed charges on MIT card accounts from as early as September 2002.

Newer registers were purchased from MICROS Systems Inc., as were the servers that went down. These registers could not function without being connected to their server.

McDonald described this is a major concern and a cause of dissatisfaction with MICROS.

Card usage to expand

The outage comes as MIT plans to expand acceptance of the card to Star Market and area restaurants.

“It’s our goal to have the card accepted wherever MIT students want to use it, if the merchants justify the expense,” McDonald said.

According to Reuben Cummings, chair of the UA Dining Committee, Star Market is currently reviewing a request to accept the card. The committee is planning a survey to gauge students’ interest.

“We need to show Star Market that they’re going to see an increase in revenue as a result of accepting the MIT Card,” Cummings said.

The committee conducted a survey last term to find out which area restaurants students most want to accept the card. From the results, it has compiled a list of candidate restaurants, but there is currently no timetable for negotiating arrangements with them, Cummings said.

Off-campus locations dial up to Diebold servers and so would not have been affected by last weekend’s outage.